eSports is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. Revenue has skyrocketed in America and among Juicy Stakes Australia bettors and among viewers around the world. There’s increased viewership which has resulted in a notable increase in investment by marketers who, both directly and indirectly, see the potential to reach a large and engaged audience via live streaming of video games and social media esports involvement.
eSports can refer to a number of different branches – competitive gaming in an organized format, amateur competitions and live streaming around non-organized competitive gaming. All of these subdivisions are expanding, including amongst people who watch professional esports content on a regular basis as well as those who are occasional viewers.
What is clear is that competitive gaming is on the upswing and that, in order to keep that upward trajectory going in the coming years, the industry needs to prepare to meet challenges and trends.
According to projections, the esports market is estimated to grow to be worth $1.9bn (£1.4bn) by 2025, and to keep up, it has to consider how to best organize for the future.
Saudi Arabia Dominic Sacco, founder of Esports News UK, points to a recent Savvy Gaming group deal. “At the start of 2022, a group backed by the Saudi Arabian government bought two of the biggest esports tournament operators in the world, ESL and FaceIt. I think we’ll see more of this happening and it will be a big trend in 2023 and probably beyond.” Now, says Sacco, the group wants to invest $38 billion so that it can transform the country into a global esports hub.
The deal, says Sacco, has split the esports community. The Rocket League team refused to take part in an event that was held in Saudi Arabia last summer and many LGBTQ players are nervous about going there because of the country’s animosity towards the LGBTQ community.
In addition, Saudi Arabia is suspected of “sportswashing” – investing massive amounts of money to deflect attention away from its human rights record in the same way that the Saudis set up a new LIV golf tour and bought the Newcastle Football Club.
The trend could force players, event organizers, presenters, and commentators to spend more of their time discussing which events are ethically acceptable to attend and could become a dominant issue in the world of esports.
Many industry insiders would like to see a consensus develop that would establish certain codes about which standards are acceptable when choosing host nations and which are not.
New Audiences Vs. Core Fanbase
Another question for many in the industry involves how to draw in new audiences while continuing to maintain a relationship with the core fanbase.
Naz Aletaha, the Global Head of League of Legends (LoL) Esports, addresses this issue when she says that the key to growth is about creating content that “hyperserves” the existing community while, at the same time, interests others in the sport. “The primary focus for us will always be the existing audience,” explains Aletaha. “Of course to grow we also want to lower the barriers to entry, we want to make the sport as entertaining and as accessible as possible. So I’d say our secondary target audience is people who play or know of LoL but that may not be actively engaged in the esports side of it.”
Aletaha points to Lil Nas X who performed at the 2022 LoL World Championship final as an example of how the esport industry can crossover into more mainstream markets. It’s vital, says Aletaha, to make the sport as appealing as possible for those fans who already know the game inside and out so that they don’t get bored.
This is accomplished by creating stores via the annual World Championship event. “I think this is the next step for us is really introducing the players for who they are and what they believe in,” says Aletaha.
“Why should this audience care about some of our top players like Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok and Kim ‘Deft’ Hyuk-kyu? And all these players around the world. There are so many reasons why they should be interested in them, so storytelling, narrative building is a big focus of ours and those crescendo moments.”
Thanks to the steady growth of esports viewing, the industry should focus on set-piece events for games whenever possible.
Sacco says that such events offer the best opportunities to forge cultural and mainstream recognition and promoting these advantages can be helpful in involving governments.
“In France, you’ve got President Macron talking about needing to do more in this space, but when it comes to major events we’re lacking a little bit so I’d like to see our politicians get a better understanding of esports and the opportunities they create……The business development group London and Partners, backed by the Greater London Authority say they want to make London the esports capital of Europe but at the moment we’re behind places like Copenhagen and Paris,” Sacco notes.
All of these elements are important in keeping the trajectory of esports heading upwards but, says Aletaha, “What will be the real game changer is when we see generational growth…..The notion that people enjoy sport because they know the rules from growing up, and so when they turn it on they don’t need a tutorial – they can just enjoy the storylines.So as the current generation of fans bring their children into it we will no doubt see the appeal of the sport grow even further.”
There’s a lot of speculation that, if esports is incorporated into the 2028 Olympics, that will happen but Sacco is not optimistic. He examines the demographics of esports fans and the Olympic Committee’s goal of getting younger people more interested in the Olympics. “To quote esports commentator Paul Chaloner,” says Sacco, “the Olympics needs esports more than esports needs the Olympics.”